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Weight-Loss Surgery Cuts Death Rate in Half

Weight-Loss Surgery Cuts Death Rate in Half
(Copyright Fotolia)

By    |   Wednesday, 17 January 2018 03:09 PM

Weight-loss surgery, which includes gastric bypass, sleeve gastrectomy, and adjustable gastric band, slashes the death rate of obese middle-aged men and women, concluded a study from Northwestern University.

"We showed that a long-term effect of bariatric [weight-loss] surgery is a longer life for obese patients," said study co-author Dr. Philip Greenland, professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. "They had half the death rate, which is significant."

The study was based on electronic health records from an HMO in Israel, which looked at detailed data on 33,540 obese individuals for up to a decade, and compared 8,385 people who had the surgery (65 percent women and 35 percent men) to 25,155 who did not.

Their average age was 46-years-old with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 40, the equivalent of being 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighing 265 pounds. BMI is a measure of body fat based on weight in relation to height.

The study looked at three types of bariatric surgery compared to the usual care by a primary care physician, which may include dietary counseling and behavior modification. The surgery types included roux-en-Y gastric bypass (creating a pouch at the top of the stomach that limits the amount a person can comfortably eat and bypassing the first part of the small intestine), laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding (restricting the amount of food the stomach can hold with an adjustable band), and sleeve gastrectomy (reducing the size of the stomach).

The rate of death in individuals who did not have surgery was 2.3 percent compared to 1.3 percent in those who had surgery.

"Bariatric surgery is an increasingly frequent treatment for severe obesity," said study co-author Laura Rasmussen-Torvik, an assistant professor of preventive medicine at Feinberg.

"It's highly effective in promoting weight loss, but also invasive and can lead to short- and long-term complications," she continued. "In order for patients and doctors to make the best-informed decisions about what weight loss strategies to pursue, they need to understand the true costs and benefits of the procedures."

"Surgery sounds like a radical approach to managing obesity, and a lot of people reject it because it seems like a risky thing to do, but it's actually less risky to have the surgery," Greenland said.

The study is published in JAMA.

A 2016 study found that losing weight following bariatric surgery reversed premature aging. Researchers found that obese people have shorter telomeres at the end of their chromosomes, which are associated with the diseases of aging. However, oxidative damage on telomeres was reduced by three-fold two years after surgery.

"We think the cells appear to be getting younger, with longer telomeres, because there is less breakage from telomere oxidation," said Dr. Philipp Hohensinner, a researcher at the Medical University of Vienna.

 "Obesity, and specifically having a lot of fat tissue, seems to put the entire body under increased stress. By losing weight and therefore adipose tissue, that stress reduces, and the body becomes younger," he said.

"This is positive news for patients who have bariatric surgery because it shows that the damage from obesity can be reversed," said Hohensinner. "Surgery is the last resort for these patients and it is good to see that not only do they lose weight, but they also reduce the stress on their body and reduce the premature aging."

In 2016, 216,000 bariatric surgeries were performed in the United States.

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Weight-loss surgery, which includes gastric bypass, sleeve gastrectomy, and adjustable gastric band, slashes the death rate of obese middle-aged men and women, concluded a study from Northwestern University."We showed that a long-term effect of bariatric [weight-loss]...
weight-loss, surgery, slashes, death, rate, half
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2018-09-17
Wednesday, 17 January 2018 03:09 PM
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